Point-Counterpoint: How did Harden’s move to Houston Impact the Hornets?

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Published: October 28, 2012

Unwilling to offer him a max contract, the Oklahoma City Thunder dealt reigning Sixth Man of the Year James Harden to the Houston Rockets. How does it affect the Hornets, both short-term and long-term?

As a result of a trade that seemingly came out of nowhere, shooting guard James Harden is now a member of the Houston Rockets. Mason Ginsberg and Michael McNamara debate the effect that these moves will have on the Hornets this year and beyond.

 

Short-Term

Ginsberg: Let’s be honest – we all know deep down that, given the strength and depth of the Western Conference, cracking the top 8 and making the playoffs was going to be a long shot for the Hornets this season. Unfortunately, this trade pushes New Orleans even further away from playoff contention, as the Rockets’ roster is now much improved from the position it was in just 24 hours ago. Though they still have a gaping hole at the power forward position, a core of Lin/Harden/Parsons/Asik is one that could flirt with the eighth seed immediately.

Looking back at my Western Conference Preview from early August, this trade moves the Rockets from Tier 3 to Tier 2, right up there with the Mavs, Warriors and Hornets. If the team can stay healthy and get enough production from their frontcourt (Patterson/Asik/Motiejunas/White/Aldrich is still one HUGE question mark), the playoffs are not entirely out of the question.

To put this bluntly, the only effect this trade has on the Hornets in the short-term is that it could help them in the 2013 NBA draft by netting them a slightly better draft pick (and/or better chance at the #1 pick).

McNamara: Lin/Harden/Asik or Gordon/Anderson/Davis ? Look, most games in the NBA are won or lost by how well or how poorly your three best guys play and there is no doubt in my mind that the Hornets have the superior Big Three– by a fairly wide margin. James Harden is a nice player who got the benefit of being covered by another team’s third best wing defender the last couple of years in OKC, but he will be the first guy on oppossing teams’ scouting reports now that he is in Houston.

Beyond that, the timing of this trade is going to effect the Rockets chances of succeeding early. This is not a video game, nor is the game played on paper. Harden will go into the season having not played with any of his teammates, nor they with him. Chemistry, coaching, top level talent- the Hornets have a clear advantage in all three categories. The Rockets aren’t finishing above New Orleans this year. Plain and simple.

 

Long-Term

Ginsberg: The effects here will largely depend on the results of the 2013 draft, but as of right now, the Hornets should stand to benefit from this trade. Had the Thunder re-signed Harden to a long-term deal, Oklahoma City would have had their juggernaut team in place for at least the next few seasons, which could have presented a significant hurdle for the Hornets once their current lineup matures. Instead, they were forced to move Harden to a team willing to give him a max contract, receiving an older, less talented SG in return in Kevin Martin (though one who may very well re-sign for less to stay with OKC at this point in his career). In addition, however, the Thunder received this year’s 12th overall pick, SG Jeremy Lamb, as well as the Raptors’ and Mavericks’ 2013 first round picks and the Bobcats’ 2013 second round pick.

Should Oklahoma City strike gold with these picks, we may come to substantially regret this trade. At the moment, though, this deal appears to break up would could have been a 4-legged monster for the next half-decade and give a little more hope to those teams which are so excited for their futures, such as the New Orleans Hornets.

McNamara: The Thunder aren’t keeping these picks, who are we kidding? Heck, they might not even keep Kevin Martin for much longer than the 60 days that they will have to wait until they can package him in a deal with another player. What the Thunder did here was acquire assets that they can turn into another quasi-star down the road when prices go down. Did you ever notice how much more value teams get trading for guys right before the deadline? Guys get had for pennies on the dollar and the Thunder will have a huge expiring, a lotto pick, and three picks that will be between 20 and 34 that they can dangle.

They can move Perkins, PJ III, and the Dallas pick to Utah for Al Jefferson if the Jazz would prefer something rather than losing him for nothing. They could ship Kevin Martin and a package of picks to Cleveland for Andy Varejao or move Perkins and Lamb plus the Toronto pick to Atlanta for Al Horford. There will be tons of options for a team with three fantastic core members and a smart GM to end this season better off  long term than they would have been paying four guys but have no money for any role players.

In my opinion, OKC might have taken a step back short term but they have a chance to take a giant leap forward long-term and that is downright scary.

 

What do you guys think? In the grand scheme of things, what does this trade mean for the Hornets? There are tons of great points to be made for either side, which is what makes trades like this so enjoyable to break down.

18 comments
kfte
kfte

Maybe wth the stock pile at guard. maybe we can get Eric Maynor for something other then a 1st round pick.That would definitely help the Hornets.

Mike
Mike

GM Presti is one smart cookie. Man...the Rockets were sitting on that Kings ransom. Presti grabbed it at just the right time. Presti grabbed that Tyler Perry guy in the draft while all the other gms were staring. That was almost highway robbery. He deserves a payraise.

J
J

Lets see a the Hornets have a future top 5 PF (Davis) a crappy bench for the time being and a SG t(Gordon) that don't want to be here but we paid $56 million for him.I would perfer Mayo over Gordon plus Mayo contract would been cheaper we coulda save some money for next year.It's Demps fault this team was desperate to keep a so called player Gordon.As i look back Gordon shoulda went to the Suns and let them deal with the drama king.

edbballin504
edbballin504

My take from a Hornets perspective is that the trade was a good thing for us, short term and long term. I look at facts, and the fact is that OKC with RW, KD, SI, and Harden is a legit title contender for the next 4-5 years. Removing Harden shakes that up, and now we go into the unknown. Sure they could end up just as good, or better, but they could also end up worst. Too early to tell, but as a Hornets fan I like seeing a certain/guaranteed obstacle being turned into a question mark. Most successful franchise go all in to win now while the window is open, they worry about the future later. Usually that yields good results (see BOS). How many times have we heard of a team having a bright future but never getting anything done? Remember the Magic w Penny and Shaq? What about our own Hornets team w/ CP3, Tyson, West, Peja? If the end game is really a ring, the BOS approach is a better bet. When you are close you go all in. OKC had a chance to do that by paying up. What they chose was flexibility, relying on potential, staying financially responsible. Don't be shocked to look back 5 years from now and say, "Man remember OKC was gonna be the next dynasty? What happened?" From a business perspective, I think sometimes being really good but falling short is just as good as being elite and actually winning it all. People want hope, OKC still has hope. Just isnt a sure thing anymore. Maybe that's good enough. Hope it works out for them (or maybe not....as a Hornets fan).

Kimbro Slice
Kimbro Slice

Im going to have to agree with Michael here. I don't think Harden makes them much better than they already were. The only significant upgrade in this trade is Harden. I actually think Houston got robbed.

xman20002000
xman20002000

Frankly Houston made out... Look at the roster before you draw a conclusion... Hardin is the only player making over $10M a year plus Martin had an expiring contract... So they have him and have Delfino coming off the bench at the 2... But look at the roster... some players will have to move.. but look at the youth with Delfino the only player 30 yrs ole.. http://espn.go.com/nba/team/roster/_/name/hou/houston-rockets

Jordan J.
Jordan J.

I do think Lamb will be a good player, and could be the answer at the starting SG spot right away, with Martin coming off the bench for scoring. Theoretically, if Lamb were to have a solid rookie campaign, they could flip their picks, Martin, and Perkins and surely get back an all-star that rounds out an even more dangerous team. Westbrook Lamb Durant Ibaka ?Horford?

da ThRONe
da ThRONe

It hurts the Hornets IMO. OKC is almost just as good after this trade as they were before. Martin will fill Harden role well coming off the bench. And if Lamb continues to develop he may start for them something I'm not sure Harden was ever going to do. Lamb is a pure spot up shooter so if he can play high level defense while he's not a better player than Harden many times in sports it's about fit. As for the Rockets this also makes them better. Some won't like this but, I'm taking Harden over Gordon every day if for no other reason he's available way more often. To me there games are a push. Both have true NBA star/superstar potential. This deal takes Houston from a team that I thought was better than us anyways to significantly better maybe even playoff contending team. I'm not a fan of over paying for potential. So I wouldn't have given Harden this huge deal, but as far as risk vs. reward I feel safer with how the acquired Harden as opposed to how we retained Gordon.

houp garou
houp garou

no way and h&ll are the rockets sniffing the playoffs with that group. put them in tier 7 or 8. Stunned the thunder and harden couldn't work it out. I would feel very very betrayed if I were a thunder fan. There window is kind of like right now and that trade gives them some picks but ultimately less chance to win right now. And if harden wasn't willing to compromise, that says a lot about his character (though still think okc should have payed his since he was the right player for the role they needed him so badly). Wouldn't want him as the max cornerstone of my team, know most would disagree but I'll take a chubby, disgruntled, sore kneed eric gordon over harden.

James McPherson
James McPherson

I don't think that OKC lost any long-term security by trading Harden, and the fact they got a boatload of assets in return is far more frightening than the original 4-headed beast they were. Durant's name (and game) have cachet, and solid - if not nearly All-Star - caliber players WILL come to OKC to have a chance at a title. Their bench is quite weakened, but their starting lineup is still tremendous. Harden is a very good player, but not worth the minimax. Houston will discover that when they attempt to acquire players that OKC will have no problem getting instead. This trade was genius for OKC, and indicative of desperation in Houston. Houston's lineup is hardly menacing.

houp garou
houp garou

genius for the ownership not the fans. they just lowered their chance to raise a banner this year and possibly beyond.

James McPherson
James McPherson

Actually, I think the move was a lateral move for OKC this year, with possibly huge upside in the future: Martin is a proven scorer who has had problems staying healthy, so his minutes on this OKC team will be better monitored and he will presumably be a 1st-off-the-bench option, defended by backups, as well as a 3rd scoring option (something he has never had the luxury of being!) in a flexed lineup. He can spot up, or function in the screen game, and can take "bad" shots and make them look good. If you start him with Durant and Westbrook his game skills fit pretty well. Lamb is totally unproven, but gives them some more athleticism with the bench in a limited role with equally limited pressure to produce. Harden's stats for last year were more efficient than Martin, yes, but his supporting cast was miles ahead of what Martin was dealing with; the primary question is will that efficiency go with him, or will Harden go back to being a 43% shooter?

da ThRONe
da ThRONe

True. But you have two consider the ramificantions of Harden leaving for nothing as a FA. This is a young team that will compete for years to come. Losing Haden and getting nothing will likely kill those chances for those remaining years. If this was a veteran squad like the Celtics and they only had a year or two window before the rebuild I'd agree. They get Martin for a year. Who with reduced mins sould hold up better and can take over a game with his shooting alone. And a young prospect that should fit in better with the team in future years better than Harden.

Mike W
Mike W

McNamara makes a number of good points. While I don't follow OKC closely, I've always had a positive opinion of Sam Presti. He's shown himself to be very smart and decisive. No hand-wringing or waiting it out until the trade deadline to do a deal or to see if Harden and his agent blink. By trading Harden now, Presti brings max value to the OKC franchise. It's also a good deal for Houston. They had lots of supporting role players and draft assets which they have now parlayed into a tier 1 player while getting back more role guys. Aldrich, for example, provides Houston with size off the bench behind Asik. He'll be part of their rotation once he gets settled in with Houston. What will be interesting to see is if Harden can step up into the role as #1 guy. He's always been OKC's #3 option and #1 only when playing with OKC's 2nd unit against the other team's backups.

504ever
504ever

I agree with Mason in the short term, this season, and both of you in the long term. You both could be right long term will just have to see how this trade plays out in the next 12 months. The reasons why I go with Mason short term is: this is a talent upgrade for Houston, and their chemistry issues can be solved early in an 82 game season. Just think how well the Hornets blended multiple, beginning of season, acquisitions a few years back.

xman20002000
xman20002000

Ok its a talent upgrade for a team rebuilding but its a contract PR dump for the Thunder... All the LeBron and D. Howard drama with Harden is over...

504ever
504ever

ESPN's most recent Power Rankings, the one that came out immediately after the Hardin trade, moved Houston up 5 places (and the Hornets down three). Pretty sure from the comments that Houston's improvement was all about Hardin improving Houston's talent level. (Houston is 21 and we are 23.) Like it or not, this is an unbiased look at Houston, the Hornets, and the rest of the league. http://espn.go.com/nba/powerrankings/_/year/2013/week/0

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